Production and export of Chilean salmon

Photo credit: Gabriel Rubio (Chile)          Information and review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal

Production overview: The development of the Chilean salmon farming industry provides a model of by fast growth, high competitiveness and successful industry placing Chile in the second-largest salmon producer and exporter globally (after Norway). The remarkable development of Chilean salmon aquaculture has taken place over a relatively short time especially salmonids species have been introduced into Chile during 1970s (except rainbow trout). The farmed salmon in Chile is the production sum of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). According to a very recent statistics, the composition of salmon species came as follows: rainbow trout (38-41%), Atlantic salmon (38 -30%) and Coho salmon (24-29%).

Farmed salmon industry in Chile represents a model of an export oriented industry whereas most of salmon produced is exported to more than 60 countries worldwide whereas the major export markets for Chilean salmon are the USA, Brazil, Japan and EU countries.

It may worth mentioning that Chile enjoys a comparative advantage in salmon production allowing salmon reach market size in six to twelve months earlier than in Norway, leading to reducing production costs and hence enhance the competiveness of Chilean salmon in world markets. 

Introductions of Chilean salmon: According to FAO records, the introduction of rainbow trout into Chile goes back to 1905 (from Germany), Atlantic salmon was introduced in 1935 (from Germany), masu salmon in 1972 (from Japan), Chum salmon in 1970 (from Japan), Chinook salmon in 1975 (from Japan), and pink salmon from USA (date is not confirmed).

Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) crisis: The outbreak of this disease in farmed salmon -especially Atlantic salmon- appeared in 2007 causing a recession in the Atlantic salmon harvest from 400,000 in 2005 to 100,000 tons in 2010. The trend in salmon export followed the production trend. The recent statistics show the recovery trend of farmed salmon in Chile as the estimated harvest of farmed salmonids is expected to be around 800,000 tons.

Recovery of Chilean salmon: The speedy recovery has been supported by series of management and regulation approaches including switching to Coho salmon and trout on the cost of the disease-susceptible species; Atlantic salmon as well applying an effective monitoring and surveillance program of highest standards of biosecurity measures targeting the prevention of any future outbreaks.

References: Seafood News Aquaculture, FAO (DIAS), Sernapesca

Chelian salmon

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